Today is the first Sunday of Advent.
Liturgical New Year’s resolution? I’m going to have a go at following the Common Worship (Church of England) Lectionary daily this year. It will be nice to be reading passages and learning about Saint celebrations along with countless others across the Church, and to be reading the Bible in a way that is set out for me – not so many Google searches this year (I hope), and reading it from the beginning to the end is useful, but can lead to, halfway through the massacres in the book of Joshua say, a desire to skip ahead to loving passages in the Gospels!
A lovely passage from chapter 2 of Isaiah today:
In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
The section heading of this passage in my NRSV Bible reads “The Future House of God”. This Christmas, as we remember Jesus Christ, the baby in a stable, let’s build our houses, our lives, to be as suitable. We don’t need a thousand decorations and a thousand presents. We just need peace. And love. A bit of straw, somewhere warm with some friends to lay our heads and smile. Jesus was happy in a stable, tucked up with his parents, some shepherds and a few bewildered men and their camels. And if Jesus can be happy in a stable, let’s not get stressed out about ‘all the things we need to do’ before Christmas Day, when really, there isn’t all that much. Hmm? 🙂
As the hymn In the Bleak Midwinter has it:
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.